Workplace accidents. The biggest cause?

The top 10 causes of workplace accidents and injury have just been released.

In general workplace incidents have been reduced, however the cost to business still remains eye watering at more than $58 BILLION per year!!

As you can see the Nr 1 cause of workplace injury comes from our own actions. Pushing, pulling, lifting , reaching.

Simple mechanical injury that can easily be avoided through staff training and implementation of protocols and procedures for manual handling.

With a coordinated effort we can reduce this number dramatically.

What training or procedures has your workplace set up to address manual handling?

How to turn Project Failure into a Win..

Bottom line, none of us are perfect and to quote a favorite expression of mine about ‘failure’ – if we are not making mistakes we are not taking risks and definitely not learning anything.

Sometimes projects go buttery smooth with everything falling into time and place EXACTLY as planned. However, more often than not, we hit speed bumps along the journey and from time to time even project failures.

It’s how you react to the failure that marks you out as the professional. Here’s some advice on how to make that failure into a win..

Speak wisely about project failure & be winning:

BY LINDSAY SCOTT

Q: I want to make a great impression in an upcoming interview for an internal role in a different department, but my current department has had major project failures this year. How can I best use the bad experience in the interview?

A: If the project failures have been high profile, the interviewers will be interested in learning more about them. Your response should be akin to how you answer the traditional interview question, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Everyone knows people aren’t perfect, and the same goes for projects.

First, when the question about failure arises, relax. Your answer can demonstrate you’re ready for the position. I always look for project managers who have experienced failure. Without that learning experience, how can they ever be prepared for when it inevitably happens?

Actively demonstrating the lessons learned is a great way to talk about project failure—but do it professionally rather than emotionally. Avoid the blame game, because your interviewers are likely to know the employees involved. Instead, talk about people in more generic terms such as “the client,” “users” or “management.”

Then get more specific on project details, such as risk management issues or process problems that show the causes of the failures. And finally, describe what you did to right the ship—or portray what you would do to correct the same problems in the future.

Never guarantee similar issues won’t happen again. The interviewer wants assurance that you can handle projects that are not all smooth sailing and that you can draw on your experiences to navigate choppy waters.

Don’t hide from ‘failure’

A debrief of a project failure is an opportunity for you as a Project Manager to display your skills at figuring out where things did not go as planned and provide you with the knowledge and experience to establish systems that will prevent a repeat of the occurrence.

project failure is a way to win
We learn from failure

Article inspiration and Source: No pain, no gain

Scott, L. (2014). No pain, no gain. PM Network, 28(2), 22.

What happens when Change Management meets employee resistance to an RPA roll out?

change

“RPA is a promising new development in business automation that offers a potential ROI of 30-200%—in the first year. Employees may like it, too.” 
— Xavier Lhuer, McKinsey and Company

The line “Employees may like it, too.” is so simple and understated yet sums up possibly the biggest stumbling block in any Change Management process.

Employees. Their reaction to change can be driven by many factors including a fear that their job or position is under threat.

“What’s wrong with the way we always did it?”

People hear ‘Robotic Processing Automation’ and think of auto factory production lines. RBA applies to any process or production that can be automated, not necessarily ‘robotized’.

Robotic processing automation promises a substantial return on investment that has attracted the attention of business leaders. While the ROI can be impressive, the majority of cost savings are realized by reducing employee headcount. Find out how a change team can identify and mitigate employee resistance to an RPA implementation and create a successful change initiative.

Again a line that is worth addressing “..reducing employee headcount.

In my experience change management is NOT about reducing staff numbers. It is in fact about removing the human element from mundane repetetive processes and empowering the staff to become more productive and efficient at other tasks more suited to their skills.

Just like any other process in project management, effective change management involves clear planning and communication of what the process means.

Focus on the positive side of things:

  • you may not have to work late or through lunch anymore
  • you are able to duplicate your time on data entry by engaging more people in a simpler process (webforms)
  • you will engage with techno phopes who shy away from noraml data entry due to spreadsheetaphobia – empowering and motivating
  • your company will be SO much more productive as back office and admin tasks are smoother releasing more time for overwatch and analysis
  • you can centralize data making it easier for key stakeholders and management to access and inform themselves without absorbing hours of others time

Don’t forget to be in front of the negatives:

  • there will be people who expect a magic wand approach – change is an iterative process. Roll out steady, sandbox and stress-test .
  • there will be retraining and many repetitive questions and answers – you are the person with the plan and in the know, you MUST be patient with people, they are willing to learn.
  • it will take time and you may feel there is no end. Well, there isn’t! At some point your process will gain critical mass and others will take it forward and be ambassadors for your process.

Article Inspiration Source: Mitigating Employee Resistance to an RPA Implementation

Resource Management

Regardless of how simple, complex, large or small your project is you will need resources in order to complete it.

A resource is any material, machine, person or software that is integral to the success of your project. Ensuring you have the right resource at the right time and place that it is needed is where resource management comes into play.

What do you need?

People to manage and fulfill tasks

Machinery, tools and vehicles to enable them to carry out work

Raw materials, components and supplies that make up the product or service.

Where do you need it?

Usually at the project worksite or manufacturing facility however the transport and logistics behind getting everything to your location as you require it is part of resource management.

How many are required?

Goes without saying whether it is 1 or 100 of anything you still have to know “how many are required?” This comes from experience and knowledge of your particular field.

You also need to consider the productivity (of human resources especially) level in resource management. There’s no point in throwing all your equipment and people at a task and having 50% not being utilized.

When do you need it?

Obviously referring to your project schedule you will have a fair idea of when you physically need your resources in place. It is worth bearing in mind you will also need to note any mobilization time necessary to get your resource to where you want them when you want them – this is your “lead time” when it applies to materials & machinery; “availability” or “workload” when it comes to staff & subcontractors.

Ultimately efficiency & productivity in any project will be a reflection of how well resources are being allocated and managed.

The problem with Back-Pack Blowers

As anyone in the landscape industry would be aware the back pack blower is now ubiquitous as a piece of equipment and pretty much all self respecting landscape maintenance contractors will own at least one and possibly a full fleet of various blowers for leaf and debris control.

 

Being a landscaper, the sound of duelling blowers is something you get used to. It doesn’t mean you like it, but you do realise it is the sound associated with getting work done and possibly meaning that that particular clean up project is almost finished.

To a member of the general public the back-pack blower is nothing less than a menace. Click To Tweet

Noisy, dust raising and polluting. A constant interference in their daily routine. Less tolerable* than a lawn mower, hedge trimmer or weed-whacker.

(*in truth, I believe the ‘tone’ of the back-pack blower engine is the issue rather than the volume – I am developing some results on this at the moment).

The town meeting was a positive discussion, both sides recognising that the back-pack blower is an important piece of equipment in allowing home owners to have their property looking the way they want it without the expense of laborious sweeping or hoards of manpower to rake up leaves and debris.

However the noise!

What can we do about it?

The largest complaint appeared to be marauding, guerrilla type landscapers who blitz a neighborhood with trucks emptying of crews mounted with backpack blowers who start blowing debris from property to property and public street. Regardless of time of day or indeed working day restrictions these crews ignore the wanton pleas from neighbors begging for peace and quiet over breakfast or evening meals.

To generate a solution we need to identify the main problems and the key points of argument:

Noise!!

Yes backpack blowers are loud. How loud is a matter of circumstance. How close are you to the source? Are you the operator or observer.

With noise, OSHA's permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 90 dBA for all workers for an 8 hour day. Click To Tweet

For most operators the solution is linear. Like all Safety Matters the goal is to minimise the risk of exposure which causes damage over time. Looking at the hierarchy of control and applying it to petrol backpack blowers for operators:

  1. Elimination – operators can not eliminate the noise of a backpack blower. It is a fact of life when it comes to operating these machines – the internal combustion engine makes noise.
  2. Substitution – this is where the option of battery powered machines may come into the picture as a possible option.
  3. Engineer – noise reducing exhaust, limited power ratings, machine built to place engine and exhaust as far from operator as possible. This step has probably reached the pinnacle of design limits.
  4. Administrative – this is governance; limiting time of exposure, training people in efficient operation (no need for 100% throttle 100% of the time) using as a last resort (rakes, brooms etc first)
  5. PPE – when all else fails you use PPE to mitigate the risk of hearing and vibration damage. Noise reducing ear muffs, goggles, gloves and a dust mask (if warranted)

For observers it is entirely different – you can’t hand out ear muffs to every passer by!

However you will find that while it is excruciatingly annoying for most observers, unless you are right on top of the blower & operator the noise levels will (generally) be within the ‘safe’ zone of <90dBl.

This does not eliminate the nuisance factor though which is more likely caused by landscape crews working an area. This means residents at home during the day may get no break from the sound reverberating around their community all day long.

The ability of this sound - in particular its lower frequency components - to travel over long distances suggests that GLB sound has a wide ranging impact on surrounding communities... Click To Tweet

Source – https://sciforschenonline.org/journals/environmental-toxicological-studies/JETS-1-106.php

Dust…

It is inevitable when using a blower that you are going to raise dust and debris into the air. Its inevitable using a brush too and a research paper in

Aside from the nuisance mentioned above, there are respiratory issues for operators and observers around the issue of air borne particles. A research paper found that in terms of Particulate Matter contribution backpack blowers  generate 100 times less  airborne debris than vehicles driving.

Also interesting is:

The broom operator was able to move the surrogate material along the concrete surface quite rapidly with the broom; resulting in emissions similar to those obtained with power leaf blowers.

Similar to above the solution here is operator training – lowest blower speed possible to move debris, gather in piles and avoid blasting big heaps of debris, limit blower use to cleaning lawns and borders as much as possible.

Engine Emissions & Pollution

This is a common argument however in modern equipment it really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny as the EPA has mandated that all small engines must confirm to strict exhaust emission requirements.

We can refute this argument quite easily with facts where you will see in general the contribution factor of petrol powered equipment is minuscule when compared to vehicles.

Blower emissions

 

Possible Solutions & Best Practise

The number one alternative (brushing and wide-scale raking is not a practical alternative for commercial operations) to petrol powered blowers is battery power.

My personal issue with this is of the 3 key arguments only one point is addressed in a mildly satisfactory way while a second is neutral and the third is totally unsatisfactory.

Battery Powered Noise

Changing from petrol to electric or battery simply changes from one type of noise to another.

Battery and electric motors produce noise at a similar dB level as petrol!! The key difference which people tend to miss is the sound is a different frequency. Think of vacuum cleaner whine or similar from a cordless drill.

Battery Powered Dust

 Dust is dust, same old issue here if you have equivalence in power or airforce rating between the two blowers.

Battery Powered Emissions

This is the biggest issue.

Bear in mind the carbon, greenhouse gas generating, polluting contributions of the production of electricity to charge your batteries in the first place before you use this argument.

Renewable energy production from wind or wave is still a long way off. Unless you have already invested in windgenerators or solar banks you will be reliant on the national grid to charge your multiple batteries.

Not to mention the ecological damage caused by mining for battery minerals

Best Practise

If you are not ready to consider battery power or alternative methods then you should at least train your operatives to be considerate and courteous. There is no need to be blasting a blower for hours as a chain gang (autumn/fall aside). Use it briefly for final clean up after maintenance operations or end of day neatness.

Consider pedestrians, cyclists and drivers if using near a road. Dust, dirt and particles are a nuisance – would you like an unexpected blast of grit to your face or paintwork? Drop the power and turn your back  for a few seconds, let people pass.

Throttle up and down reacting to the debris you are dealing with. There is no benefit to you and its definitely not quicker to run 100% throttle and push a pile of dirt in front of you. Make a small pile with the blower, pick it up with a shovel and use the blower to gather the residual into the next pile.

https://legacy.azdeq.gov/environ/air/download/Leaf_Blower_Training.pdf

Conclusion

Petrol backpack blowers whether you consider them a pest or not will be a part of our daily lives for a while to come.

Personally I think the next 10 years may see the costs of battery power balance out where power rating compares and renewable energy makes the choice a more environmentally sound one.

As for banning. It’s not really the landscapers fault when people employ them to do a job and then ask to remove their tools.

Are you ready to pay the additional cost for manual labor clearing leaves or sweeping your yard?

 

Whats the best way to dry your running shoes?

There’s no getting away from the fact it’s that time of year when every second run is sure to be in a rain shower or through puddles. Shoes, socks and feet are going to get wet. That’s a fact!! The trick is getting the shoes dry for the next run.

There is tons of advice available online from a plethora of reputable sources; stuff them with paper, bung them under the radiator, oven dry (?!!?!)

google search for dry your running shoes

The best method we find is to dry them naturally. Let air and gravity be your friends and you will avoid some of the pitfalls of force drying or stuffing your shoes.

  • stinky smells – trapped moisture is breeding ground for bacteria who activate when your feet warm the shoes.
  • breakdown – just the same as leaving shoes in a hot car boot heat breaks down glues and shortens the life of your uppers.

..it’s that time of year when every second run is sure to be in a rain shower or through puddles.CLICK TO TWEET

Our 8 steps for dry running shoes:

    1. Knock mud & dirt off them (outside!)
    2. Remove the sock liner or insole from the shoe – wipe dirt off and inspect base for grit or sand (these small granules can cause hotspots & blisters)
    3. Remove any visible water inside the shoe – into sink or drain
    4. Open laces and release shoe tongue to open the collar of the footwear.
    5. Position shoes on door handles – ideal use for a kitchen door or toilet door as air moves freely around rather than hanging the shoes on a shoe rack against the wall.
    6. Place sockliners on top – let them air dry and it means they don’t get separated from the shoes!!
    7. Place towel on floor under door!! There will be moisture draining from the shoes
    8. Leave over night.

 

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Wet shoes after #TrailTuesda? The best way to dry your shoes is a combination of drip and air drying. #AKWest #trailrunning #runningshoes

A post shared by Seán (@runningmatters) on

 

That’s it!! The easy way to dry your shoes and avoid stressing fabrics or culturing a new breed of bacteria!!